Sultry afternoons. The air hangs like a heavy syrup, a slow-dripping sap, from which we feel we won't escape. The long days, the heat, the humidity, all these things suspend us in the time-stretched haze we call summer.
Bluebird skies and lemony blooms draw my eyes skyward as I walk. I make my way through the honeyed atmosphere more slowly, out of necessity and also out of respect for this season. I do not adore it as so many do, and yet these moments hold me in their sway.
Arriving at a favorite overlook, I find familiar flora transformed by the heat and the light.
Turning a corner, this sight ensnared me for several minutes. The color and the light and the shade. Only summer holds sway here.
I wend my way along toward home again, and the flowers seem to smile and say, We hold winter's rain and spring's promise in every spectrum, and you are welcome here as well.
In defiance of the heat and humidity, we headed up the coast to Long Beach to go to the Aquarium of the Pacific. As its name suggests, the aquarium contains numerous exhibits primarily dedicated to different regions and ecosystems of the Pacific Ocean. It also features an aviary for the rainbow-hued, nectar-eating parrots known as lorikeets. We did not see them on this trip. But we did enjoy the Amber Forest exhibit, seen above, which shimmers with long, rippling stems of kelp.
There were many species of seahorses on display as well.
Peek-a-boo! Do you see the eel?
I became obsessed with the haunting moon jellies.
And look at this striking Japanese Sea Nettle, with its long, pale arc of stinging tentacles!
And here is an extraordinary Pacific Sea Nettle.
Here is a Blacktip Reef Shark, one of the denizens of the Shark Lagoon Exhibit:
And to change things up a bit, here are some steelhead trout, from the Southern California Steelhead Story exhibit. According to the aquarium brochure, fewer than 500 steelhead remain in the wild. Once, masses of them traveled up the rivers of Southern California to spawn and then head back to the sea.
Here are more of the jellies of varying ages and sizes, because I could not get enough of them!
And here is one small part of the glorious Tropical Pacific Gallery, which I should have taken more pictures of, but frankly we were so absorbed in the brilliant colors of the fish and coral that we forgot.
This aquarium is located near beautiful parks and shops and even a lighthouse and the Queen Mary. In fact, there was so much to see and do in and near the aquarium, we must return soon.
This was the perfect cure for the summer heat and torpor, a place to escape, to learn, and to float for a little while in bliss.
Above normal sea temperatures here have meant little cooling at night. Next month’s utility bill won’t be pretty. So I’ve sought out anything to cool down. Above, looking from Shelter Island, you can see the San Diego Bay meet the Pacific Ocean. The peninsula we call Point Loma rises to the right. On that morning, I fled over there to feel some cool Pacific fog and just gazed at the sea.
Summer tries my patience. I want to enjoy it more, but the heat saps me of energy and sometimes makes me sick. I reschedule walks to try and catch cooler moments.
And when veggies are at their summer peak, you can’t go wrong with a good salad.Romaine lettuce, halved grape tomatoes, chopped red bell pepper, basil, and a cut up Babybel cheese really fit the bill on a hot day.
Hope you’re all staying cool!
It’s maybe not the best month for baking, but I dared. I made a lemon pound cake with some mixed berries blended in, and a layer of fresh blueberries in the middle. Topped with lemon glaze, it really hit the spot.
Then we stopped in lovely San Clemente on the Pacific Coast Highway. This is the view from Pizza Port Brewing. There are several of them in SoCal, but this was our first time tying the San Clemente one.
The next day of the long weekend, we headed to historic Presidio Park.It’s a beautiful space, with open park for picnics and play, and trails that go behind the structure itself.
Then on the Fourth of July we attended a neighborhood parade in the morning, and enjoyed the Big Bay Boom fireworks at night.
While the heat can build quickly, there’s a lot to love about July.
As the calendar turns to July, I reflect on the ups and downs of this past month and steep in gratitude for time with friends, good food and drink, healing of loved ones far away, and for the beauty of it all.
Thank you, June.